An Ecology-Centred School

As my time at Loreto comes to a close, particularly as I go to my last Green Team meeting this week (which has played a particularly large part of my life at Loreto) I’ve realised all that I’ve learned in having an inside view into sustainability as a member of Green Team and the Sustainability Committee. As Enviroweek begins this coming week, I thought I would just explain some of the core aspects of Loreto as a sustainability focused school, and specifically, as a result of the current  Strategic Plan – an Ecology-Centred School.   

Most people are probably aware that we now have solar panels on the roof of the pool and the gym – what you may not know though is that our solar array has the capability of saving 153 tonnes of CO2 from entering our atmosphere annually. To put that into perspective, this is approximately 128 Volkswagen Golfs. In order to monitor the impact made by the installation of our solar panels there are a number of meters on each of the arrays. On average, the meter on the pool tells us that the panels have been able to remove the cost of the energy required to power the pumps and ventilation in the pool.

As an ecology-centred school, decisions made about building works are environmentally conscious. Our new modular buildings, for example, do not have any heating, and the rooms in the Gonzaga Barry Centre (GBC) are deliberately designed with high ceilings to reduce the need for unnecessary heating. They are also  not air conditioned as they face south and have big fans to circulate air. Also, in the GBC there are boiler heaters, which while costly to install are more economical in the long run and are also more energy efficient. Moreover, the school has almost completed moving all lighting in the school towards LED’s. In addition,  only water from the water tanks are used to water our oval .

The commitments of the school have also been manifested in the materials used by the catering company as they have been seeking to reduce plastic waste and have begun using biodegradable cutlery and cups for functions and events. The focus on sustainability penetrates all aspects of the school. Something that is sometimes not considered is our drink bottle fountains. While within the school we have a number of filtered water coolers, the water troughs located around the Café and near the art rooms were deliberately placed a few years ago, in places where shade means that they do not need to be cooled and they offer a greater opportunity for girls to fill reusable drink bottles.

Much of the initiatives made by the Green Team focus on embedding the commitments to care for creation by the school within the culture of the students, which hopefully they have begun to, particularly as Enviroweek begins. This year, we have a number of mobile muster collection points for mobile phones, in addition to our battery boxes. A few years ago printing allocations were introduced to reduce school printing and ink use by students to reduce unnecessary printing. As a school we are also moving towards reducing balloons and helium use in events, recycling of coffee pods and reducing plastic coffee cups at the café. I am also excited that while the school already uses mixed waste recycling, in the coming weeks there will be recycling stations arriving at the school to create an environment conducive to learning about putting rubbish in the correct bin and considering where waste goes.

 

Rachel Parsons

Social Justice Captain,  Member – Green Team and Sustainability Committee